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Anecdotes from the Archive

From Patents to Poetry: A Breakdown of Scientific American‘s Very First Issue

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Earlier this month, Nature Publishing Group and Scientific American proudly launched the completion of Scientific American‘s archives, dating back to the first issue from August 28, 1845. As America’s longest-running consecutively published magazine, it’s no surprise the content of the publication underwent several changes since its debut. What appeared in 1845 shows a periodical aimed [...]

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Guest Blog

Finding good information on the internet

Have you heard about the highly endangered tree octopus of the forests of the Pacific Northwest? "Ridiculous," you say? But I found a whole webpage devoted to saving them, so they must exist, right? This website has been used to intentionally mislead students (see news article) as part of a scientific study, and it points [...]

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Guest Blog

Health Reporting and Its Sources

Where do health and science news stories come from? The cynical answer would be "the news agency" or "the press release." Both, unfortunately, are true. For example, for my thesis I needed to locate the sources of health stories from two major Israeli news sites. When a primary source wasn’t given I typed details from [...]

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Guest Blog

An arsenic-laced bad-news letter: Who is the audience for online post-publication peer review?

Dear Dr. Shanahan, Thank you for your application to the Summer Institute on Unicorn Science. We appreciate the effort that went into all of the applications. We received over 1,000 excellent submissions and had a very difficult decision to make. Unfortunately, we were only able to select 10 applications and yours was not among those [...]

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What Getty Can Teach Us About Copyright


Last week Getty announced that they would release 35 million of their copyrighted images for editorial and commentary use with a handy embed tool. The system works a lot like the embed tool in YouTube and Vimeo videos – although the image can appear anywhere, it is very clear where it originated from and it’s [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

The pain of not getting cited: oversight, laziness, or malice?

The author laments (a photograph taken at the University of Portsmouth back in September 2009).

It’s time to republish this classic article from Tet Zoo ver 2 (originally published in September 2009). The problem I’m concerned with certainly hasn’t gone away, and in fact is on my mind right now since I’ve seen a couple of recent, egregious examples. Those of us who publish technical research papers like to see [...]

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